About Heather Taves

Heather Taves is one of Canada’s most acclaimed and beloved pianists, a career she melds with those of composer, improviser, and writer. Her performances are described as “radiantly beautiful…commanding and authoritative” (The Guardian), and her compositions “brilliant in her conjuring of diverse worlds of sounds and texture…superlative music for our time and beyond” (Stephen Preece, The Record). Her openness, warmth and humor connect with people as she communicates her expertise in an enormous range of diverse music. From harpsichord to electronica, from solo Chopin to spoken word, Taves has brought poetic fire to her live concerts and five albums of classical music, original compositions, and improvisations.

Raised on Canada’s East Coast in the wild beauty of Prince Edward Island, Heather Taves left home at age 16 to further her studies. By age 19, she had graduated with high distinction in piano performance from McGill University, performed Rachmaninoff’s third concerto with orchestra, and was featured by CBC on national broadcasts. She continued with a master’s degree from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where she studied with legendary pianist Gyorgy Sebok; there she was described as a “superb pianist and wonderful human” by Distinguished Professor Josef Gingold. She completed her doctoral degree at Stony Brook University in New York studying with pianist Gilbert Kalish, whose championing of living composers and new ideas profoundly influenced her work.

Heather Taves has toured internationally in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, in such venues as the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, Place Des Arts in Montreal, Merkin Hall in New York City, Radio Zurich, and the Madras Philharmonic Society. She has performed collaboratively with the Penderecki String Quartet, pianist Jamie Parker, The Elora Festival Players, NUMUS, Jaap Schröder, and many others. She has premiered works including the Triple Concerto by Glenn Buhr performed with the CBC Vancouver Orchestra, and performed a myriad of piano music by diverse living composers, including Israeli composer Oded Zehavi, Palestinian-Canadian composer John Kameel Farah, Turkish composer Can Kazaz, British jazz pianist Julian Joseph, and many more. For CBC Halifax, she presented a four-part series performing and discussing 20th century piano music.   

Internationally recognized as an innovative educator, Taves’s research centers on the use of creative improvisation as a pathway to the development of identity. The Maclean’s Guide To Canadian Universities has highlighted her teaching in its profile of Wilfrid Laurier University where she is an Associate Professor: “The university is also well-respected for its music faculty, which attracts students from across Canada and the United States. Students benefit from weekly one-on-one sessions with such acclaimed faculty as pianist Heather Taves.” Many of her students have gone on to performing arts careers; others have researched innovative applications of music in professions such as medicine, computer science, entrepreneurship, and education.

A composer says…

“Many thanks to Heather Taves for the great Makro!”

  • —George Crumb


“An extraordinary evening of highly memorable new music…a masterful combination of recorded sounds, solo improvisations, and tasteful ensemble chemistry…Taves was also brilliant in her conjuring of diverse worlds of sound and texture…this was superlative music for our time and beyond.”

  • —Stephen Preece, for The Record

“Taves’ execution of the tightly wound jazz-influenced piano part alongside an electronic rhythm track in Farah’s “Uprising” was a knock-out thing of dazzling beauty and non-stop swinging energy all the way to its inspired end.”

  • —Today’s Zaman, Turkey

“It was the sheer musicality of everything she did which provided such a deep impression – the light and shade, the subtlety of color and phrasing, the variety of rhythmic stress, all made to serve the musical sense.”

  • —The Telegraph-Journal

“A radiantly beautiful performance…commanding and authoritative, with the proper virtuosic display this music calls for”

  • The Guardian (Canada)

“More than just transmitting virtuosity, [the trio] also communicated tradition, experience, contact, and communication.”

  • —La Nacion (Costa Rica)

“Superb, technically and interpretively…Taves has a definite talent for understanding and communicating the rationale of modern music.”

  • —Colleen Johnson, for The Record

“She possesses the necessary technique, and the musical spark in abundance…these Heather Taves achieved to perfection.”

  • The Nelson Daily

“Some of the most beautiful music that I have ever heard…during both the slow, ethereal passages and the incredibly rapid ones…I was just glad that I couldn’t see her hands from where I was sitting. I might never have recovered.”

  • —The Brock Press